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Rabies cases reported in Grayson

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Two victims exposed to rabid cat

By Staff Reports

INDEPENDENCE — The Mount Rogers Health District reports that two local residents are receiving treatment for rabies following exposure to a rabid cat.

The Grayson County Health Department received lab confirmation of rabies Sept. 23, according to a statement from the health district.

Grayson County Animal Control has been notified that there are other cats in this stray population, and residents of the area are being contacted to determine whether anyone else was exposed.

“This case is a reminder that rabies is commonly found in wild and stray animals throughout the Mount Rogers Health District and across Virginia,” said Scott Honaker, district environmental health manager. “The possibility of people being exposed to this deadly disease increases when there are stray animals in a community, and potential exposures are even more likely if people approach or feed.

“Stray animals and wild animals acting strange should be reported to animal control. People should not attempt to befriend or feed them, even if they seem tame.”

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. Animals with rabies shed the virus in their saliva, so any animal bite should be taken seriously.

The disease is almost always fatal, but there is a vaccine to prevent it when a bite occurs. If you are bitten, wash the wound immediately with soap and water. Call your physician, local health department or animal control agency immediately.

To limit potential exposure, keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for pets and selected livestock. Never approach wild or stray animals or leave pet food or garbage outside. Keep your animals on your property and report strays in your area. If your animal is attacked or bitten by a wild or stray animal, report it to your local health or animal control authorities. Do not keep wild animals as pets – enjoy them from a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. Infected animals can spread the disease even before they show signs of sickness.

For questions about rabies protection or possible exposures, contact the Mount Rogers Health District (276) 781-7450 or your local health department. For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Health’s Rabies Control and Prevention website at www.vdh.state.va.us/epi/rabiesf.htm/.